Short reviews of movies playing throughout the Tampa Bay area


DEAD ALIVE (R) Probably the best horror-splatter comedy ever, Shaun of the Dead not excluded, this early effort from Peter Jackson gleefully piles on the gore and has a grand old time flinging body parts and all manner of outrageousness at every square inch of the screen. The movie is a low budget wonder, utterly free of pretense, genuinely funny (when it wants to be), genuinely scary (when it needs to be), and filled with jaw-dropping moments involving flesh-eating mothers and lawnmowers. As guilty pleasures go, consider this one a must-see. Stars Timothy Balme, Diana Penalver and Elizabeth Moody. Plays Oct. 21, one night only, at Tampa Theatre. Call to confirm.

THE GRUDGE (PG-13) The latest example of Hollywood's current obsession with remaking Japanese horror films, The Grudge gives us Sarah Michelle Gellar wandering through a haunted house that puts its inhabitants in a state of rage so all-consuming they die from it. Also stars Jason Behr and Clea Duvall. Opens Oct. 22 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

PROTEUS (NR) Directed by the always intriguing John Greyson (Lilies, Zero Patience), this complex and visually elegant work blends powerful realism, blatant artifice and historical anachronisms a la Derek Jarman to tell the politically charged love story of a Dutch sailor and an African herdsman imprisoned in South Africa in the 1730s. Proteus is a strange, challenging film that recalls the glory days of queer cinema when the artsy, anything-goes spirit of early Todd Haynes, Greg Araki and Christopher Munch ruled the roost. Stars Neil Sandilands, Rouxnet Brown, Shaun Smyth and Kristen Thomson. Opens Oct. 22 at Sunrise Cinemas.

ROSENSTRASSE (R) More atrocities of the Holocaust are brought to light in this film about a daughter's discovery of what her mother went through during WWII. German with English subtitles. Opens Oct. 22 at Burns Court Cinemas. Call to confirm. (Not Reviewed)

WHAT THE #$*! DO WE KNOW? (NR) An unsatisfying and unintentionally bizarre mish-mash of talking heads, animated sequences and a more-or-less straight narrative about a grumpy photographer (Marlee Matlin) who gets her world view kicked in the ass, What the Bleep... offers up a veritable Dummy's Guide to The Universe. The movie distills the principles of quantum physics into a basic message, endlessly repeated, that we make our reality, hence our own happiness, and frames that message as fuzzy-headed mystical claptrap that begins to seem like a New Age recruitment film or maybe even a classic Kurt Vonnegut parody. The talking heads — a mix of scientists and spiritualists (including famous psychic J Z Knight channeling the 35,000-year-old sage Ramtha) offer up their psychobabbling soundbites and quasi-mystical wisdom as Matlin's character acts out their theories in a series of curious little vignettes that culminate with her transformation from angst-ridden sourpuss to smiling child of the universe. Despite a sprinking of intriguing concepts, the film gives metaphysics a bad name. Also stars Barry Newman and Elaine Hendrix. Opens Oct. 22 at Tampa Theatre. Call to confirm. 1/2


BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS (R) Adapted from Evelyn Waugh's 1930 novel Vile Bodies, this feature-film debut for British writer/actor Stephen Fry follows an ensemble cast of witty, literate partygoers through 1930s London. Stars Stephen Campbell Moore, Emily Mortimer and Peter O'Toole, with cameos by Dan Aykroyd, Stockard Channing and others. Now playing at Sunrise Cinemas. Call to confirm. (Not Reviewed)

CELLULAR (PG-13) A woman's panicky distress call randomly appearing on a man's cell phone jump-starts a feature-length cat-and-mouse chase. Stars Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, William H. Macy, Jason Statham and Noah Emmerich. (Not Reviewed)

CODE 46 (R) Director Michael Winterbottom's future-noir places Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton in an Orwellian world where their love is doomed not only by "genetic incompatibility," but also by law. Held over at Sunrise Cinemas. Call to confirm. (Not Reviewed)

A DIRTY SHAME (NC-17) John Waters' new movie takes his old set-up of normal types vs. perverts (with the pervs getting all the glory), and reformats it as some sort of ode to sexual excess, with a Baltimore filled with adamantly old-fashioned townsfolk terrorized by bands of hyperactive sex fiends. Waters does his best to shock us, but what might have seemed fresh, crude and astonishingly odd in one of the director's films from 30 years ago, seems a bit pointless now. The real problem here, however, is that, despite some choice moments, A Dirty Shame simply isn't all that funny, and that lack of comedy translates into the one thing a John Waters film should never be: boring. Stars Tracey Ullman, Johnny Knoxville, Selma Blair and Chris Isaak.

THE FINAL CUT (PG-13) Robin Williams stars in a vaguely metaphysical-sounding sci-fi drama about a man who edits the memory chips placed in human beings at birth. Also stars Mira Sorvino, Jim Caviezel, Mimi Kuzyk and Thom Bishops. (Not Reviewed)